Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Ash Up for Ash Wednesday—AND Choose Life

So many avid Christians use Lent as an opportune lead-in to-Easter season to take off pounds, exercise more, get healthy—or at least prepare to fit into the Easter outfit they’d planned to wear for their twice-a-year visit to Jesus.

I suggest instead: take on new ideas and practices that delight, sort of like the famous Eden “apple.”  You won’t die, so grab for life. I swear it’s just what God ordained in the first place.

Here’s a witty and wise message from the late May Sarton—great poet and contemplative thinker.  This is in her little 1981 book of meditations The House By the Sea, April 29 entry.

Sarton has taken a “heavenly” train journey down the Hudson to NYC where she heads for Bloomingdales’ to find some summer shorts and jackets . . .

“. . .as usual, in total despair because I wear a size 18 or 20. I was shunted from floor to floor, on each seeing exactly what I needed. ‘But, oh no madam, we only have sizes 8 to 16. Try floor 3 . . . ‘Finally I managed to find a pair of very expensive jeans to garden in and a couple of shirts on the unchic, sad floor for half-sizes!  Meanwhile, two thirds of the women going up and down the escalators were obviously not size 16!  Why do we lie down and allow fashion to dictate our lives and to humiliate us?  I think the Fat Panthers (emulating the Gray Panthers) had better launch a crusade—large posters showing gaunt, thin women looking tense and one hundred years old beside round, rosy, happy women might be a first attack.”

I can’t resist the next entry, which Sarton calls her “other experience in New York.”

“After my discouraging rove through Bloomingdales’ I went to a small French restaurant, Le Veau D’Or, took refuge there during a thunderstorm, having bought a book to read—an ideal one, as it turned out—Helen Bevington’s Journal of the Sixties. The place was jammed; my table faced the door; I could observe people as they came in while I sipped my drink and it was good not to be waiting anxiously for ‘one person,’ to be free, no entanglements, no little thread pulled taut inside me, so that in an hour there I had the feeling of a whole holiday and enjoyed myself immensely.”

Whole and holy holiday.  Must’ve been Passover or Easter—and both.

I wish I’d known this woman, so compatriot with my own soul.

Please notice that Sarton’s journal is spiritual writing par excellence— high, wide, and deep—looking beyond, all around, and within, all at once.

In order to escape the term spirituality getting lost in a mush of eclectic meaninglessness, we ought to honor it by making Spiritual Writing a genre in its own write, or rite.
                                                              *  *  *  *  

Oh, and I do love that Pope Benedict, a pontiff with whose every word and pronouncement I have strenuously disagreed, has, with his reasonable recent decision to retire for age and health reasons, defrocked the Roman Catholic Church of its hierarchy-of-being delusions, and clothed it in humility.

As our President said last night, we are all in this together, and if we don’t act in bipartisan ways we will decay. I for one will not again vote for any local or national candidate with extreme partisan politics.

It’s the beginning of a new day. Carpe diem! And as the prophet Hosea says: Walk humbly with your God—yourself and your neighbors.

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